Monday, 29 September 2014

Monday Music: Autumn

I think it is safe to say that Autumn in here now? Yes? How about a list of songs that celebrate that fact?

Billie Holiday - Autumn in New York

John Coltrane - Autumn Leaves

Yo La Tengo - Autumn Sweater

The Kinks - Autumn Almanac

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Autumn/Winter Survival Guide: Part One

I know I am not alone in finding the long hard winter nights difficult. If I won the lottery I would probably move to somewhere sunnier from November – March with the odd trip back home for Halloween, Christmas, Hogmanay and birthdays.

Until I win the lottery (or get my unfinished novel picked up for a multi-million pound film deal) I have to cope with the winter and the dark evenings and mornings. I have over the years developed some tools to help cope with this and here is post one of three on what I plan to do this winter to keep the blues at bay.

1. Use my SAD lamp

Image from Lumie website
Every morning from about 1 September onwards I put the SAD lamp on for about 20-30 minutes while we eat breakfast and potter about. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a recognised disorder that is more severe than the winter blues as it can lead to lethargy, withdrawal, anxiety and depression. A SAD lamp works by mimicking summer levels of bright light to boost mood and energy levels. I use the Brightspark by Lumie but there are many others on the market at various price points and it pays to shop around.

2. Use my daylight alarm clock

As dawn breaks across my bedroom
This makes getting up in the morning SO much easier. You set the alarm for the time you want to get up (in my case 6.45am) and it creates a false dawn in your bedroom that slowly wakes you up in a natural way. At 6.45am my radio alarm kicks in just in case I slept through dawn but I tend to feel a lot more refreshed for waking up this way, and it is nice to be in a bedroom filled with ‘daylight’ as I get up. Again we use the Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30 but there are many others on the market so do find the one that works best for you.

3. Exercise

I've been using these climbing shoes
I know when it is dark and cold and there is good TV on that exercising seems like the thing you least want to do but it really does help. It releases lovely endorphins and can help you to sleep better as well as doing a lot for your physical and mental health. This winter I aim to mostly be climbing, walking and doing pilates as these are the exercises that work for me. If you think you hate exercise it could be that you simply have not found what works for you. Penny did a great post on this that you should check out.

4. Eat well

Home made curry!
In winter it is easy to slip into bad eating habits but eating mostly junk makes you feel pretty junky inside. There are so many tasty, healthy comfort food recipes out there that it seems a waste to not try them. I will be making a lot of soup this winter and more than a few stews and casseroles. I have pinned a lot of soup recipes over on Pinterest if you need some inspiration.

5. Supplements

You can get other brands!
Even if you eat well it can be hard to get the right amount of vitamin D in winter due to the lack of time in the sun and covering up for warmth. I take a vitamin D supplement from the start of September and I really find it helps. As a rule though advice is that you should get all your vitamins if you have a healthy and varied diet, so when it comes to other supplements I would take advice from someone who knows more about it than me.

6. Embrace the dark

There are lots and lots of fun things to do in the dark (ahem). My next two posts on surviving the autumn and winter will be on fun stuff to do at home this winter and fun stuff to do out and about in Edinburgh.

What do you do to combat the winter blues?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Monday Music: Back to School

We are most certainly at back to school feeling up here. Term has started a while back and things are in full flow.  The leaves are turning brown and there is a crispness in the air.  It is quite nice really.

Here are some songs that capture the back to school feeling for me:

Vampire Weekend: Campus

I think this one is pretty self explanatory as a back to school song?  It is all about University and running into a person you used to date. Quite a typical university experience as no matter how big the institution you attend it turns out to be pretty tiny if you are trying to avoid someone.

Kanye West: School Spirit (features swears)

Kanye West's first album was called The College Dropout and it was really good.  Remember when we all thought he was really good? This is the one song on it that really deals with University/College on the whole album and I just had to include it.

Death Cab for Cutie: We Looked Like Giants

Another one about a campus romance. What a surprise. This one kind of makes me think of The Secret History though which is an excellent thing for a song to make anyone think of.

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